Football Injury? Here's How To Return To The Field

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Are you dealing with an injury as we head into the playoffs? Determine what type of injury you have, then seek the appropriate therapy treatment to return to the field! It is 'Win or Go Home' time and your team needs you!

Some Common Sports Injuries

Sprains. Injuries to ligaments, the fibrous connective tissues that connect one bone to another. In first-degree sprains, the ligament is stretched; in second-degree sprains, some fibers are torn; in third-degree sprains, most or all of the fibers are torn. In general, first-degree sprains produce only pain and swelling, second-degree injuries are often accompanied by weakness and bluish discoloration due to bleeding, and third-degree sprains produce severe weakness and decreased mobility.

Strains. Injuries to muscles or tendons, the fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. Commonly known as muscle pulls, strains also come in first-, second-, and third-degree varieties. Like sprains, strains are usually caused by a misstep or fall that places excessive force on a tendon or muscle, so that fibers are stretched or torn.

Tendinitis. Inflammation of a tendon, often caused by overuse or poor body mechanics. Pain is the major symptom, but warmth, swelling, and redness may occur. The pain is typically most severe at the start of exercise; it eases up during exercise, only to return with a vengeance afterward.

Fasciitis. Inflammation of the layer of fibrous tissue that covers many muscles and tendons. Overuse is often to blame. A common example is plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the sole of the foot, which plagues many walkers and runners.

Bursitis. Inflammation of the small, fluid-like sacs that cushion joints, muscles, or bones like miniature shock absorbers.

Arthritis. Inflammation of a joint (arthritis) or the membrane that surrounds it (synovitis). Like bursitis, joint inflammation often occurs without being triggered by exercise, but both problems can also result from overuse or trauma. Pain and swelling ("water on the knee," for example) are common symptoms.

Dislocations. Dislocations occur when bones slip out of their proper alignment in a joint. A deformity is often visible, and the joint is unable to move properly. Although some athletes attempt to realign (reduce) a dislocation themselves, it should be done by a physician or highly experienced trainer or therapist.

Muscle cramps and spasms. Unduly strong and sustained muscle contractions that can be very painful.  Stretching will help relieve cramps; hydration and good conditioning help prevent them.

PRICE it Right!

PRICE is the tried-and-true protocol for dealing with injuries and is an acronym for: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Protection. Injured tissues must be protected against further injury.

Rest. Injured tissues need time to heal. It's an obvious principle, but once you're hooked on exercise you may be tempted to ignore it. Don't!  Rest selectively and pursue alternative sports/exercise.  Injuries can often be blessings in disguise, forcing you to diversify your workouts and acquire new skills.

Ice. It's the cheapest, simplest, yet most effective way to manage many injuries. Ice is an excellent anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling and pain. For best results, apply an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes as soon as possible after an injury. Repeat the ice treatment each hour for the first four hours, then four times a day for the next two to three days. Protect your skin with a thin cloth.

Compression. Pressure will help reduce swelling and inflammation. In most cases, a simple elastic bandage will suffice; it should be snug but not too tight. Remember that swelling may develop slowly hours after your injury, so you may have to loosen your wrap.

Elevation. Enlists the force of gravity to drain fluid away from injured tissues, reducing swelling, inflammation, and pain. You can simply prop your injured limb up on a pillow above heart level.

Therapies to Speed Your Recovery

If you have a major injury — or if your nagging woes don't clear up — get help.  Primary care physicians can handle many exercise-induced problems, but more difficult issues require orthopedists, physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropractors.  You can also speed your recovery through innovative, natural therapies that activate your body's natural healing mechanisms.

Cold Laser Therapy.  Cold laser therapy has been used for years to speed recovery, because it activates cellular healing and regeneration.

Whole Body Cryotherapy.  Cryotherapy works at the cardiovascular level, prompting the body to cleanse the blood of inflammatory enzyme and toxins, and replenishing the blood with oxygen, nutrients, anti-inflammatory enzymes and red blood cells.

Soft Tissue Work.  Sports Massage Therapists, Airrosti practitioners and some Physical Therapists perform the role of breaking up scar tissue, restore function, improve mobility (helping stretch muscles and regain range of motion).

Chiropractors. Primarily concerned with structural integrity of your spine and joints, Chiropractors can help realign and balance your high-performing body.

Your body is amazingly resilient and has the capacity to self-heal, provided you give it the appropriate time and attention.  Pay the right PRICE and seek the right help to get back on the field as quickly as you can!

Resources:

Harvard Health Newsletter

Sports Injury Clinic